Akaroa Historic Area


  • Akaroa Historic Area.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: R O'Brien. Date: 24/12/2010.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: R O'Brien. Date: 24/12/2010.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: R O'Brien. Date: 24/12/2010.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Area Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7443 Date Entered 5th February 1999


Extent of List Entry

The area lies along the waterfront of Akaroa Harbour. The northern boundary is Rue Lavaud/Woodhills Rd; the southern boundary - Garden of Tane; the eastern boundary - L'Aube Hill Reserve, French Cemetery, Stanley Park & Rue Balguerie; and the western boundary is Daly's Wharf.

City/District Council

Christchurch City


Canterbury Region


The following text is from the original Historic Area Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report presented to the Board Feb 1999:

The area lies along the waterfront of Akaroa Harbour. The main axis comprises all of the Rue Lavaud, part of Beach Road, and includes streets and areas to the east of these two principal arteries. The axis of the area runs roughly north and south with the northern end beginning at the junction of the Rue Lavaud with Woodills Road, and the southern end terminating at the Garden of Tane. The eastern boundary of the area includes the L'Aube Hill Reserve and French Cemetery, the Rue Balguerie and Stanley Park. The western boundary is marked by Dalys Wharf at the end of the Rue Balguerie.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The following text is from the original Historic Area Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report presented to the Board Feb 1999:


(a) Contains an inter-related group of historic places:

The historic character of Akaroa has been acknowledged in publications for several decades and its historic and architectural associations have made the township a tourist and lifestyle option for almost as long. That heritage significance has been recognised by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, which has already registered approximately half of the buildings, structures and land described in the Akaroa Civic Trust's nomination for historic area. To date the Trust has registered:

Category I:

Church of St Patrick, 25 Rue Lavaud; Langlois-Eteveneux House, 71 Rue Lavaud; St. Peter's Anglican Church, 10 Rue Balguerie; Blythcliffe, 37 Rue Balguerie.

Category II:

Waekerie Cottage; 2 Rue Lavaud; cottage, 10 Rue Lavaud; Grehan Stream Bridge; The Poplars (18 Rue Lavaud; Backpackers' Hostel, 50 Rue Lavaud; Rue Lavaud bridge; Chemist Shop, 58 Rue Lavaud; Old Criterion, 66 Rue Lavaud; Windermere 17 Rue Lavaud; Southpower Cottage, 35 Rue Lavaud; Trinity Cottage, 39 Rue Lavaud; Bon Accord, 55 Rue Lavaud; Waekerie bridge; Courthouse, 69 Rue Lavaud; BNZ, 73 Rue Lavaud; former Photographer's Studio, 14 Rue Balguerie; Banksia Cottage, 18 Rue Balguerie; cottage, 42 Rue Balguerie; Customs House, 1 Rue Balguerie; former girls' boarding school, 17 Rue Balguerie; Vangiono Home, 23 Rue Balguerie; Coronation Library, 103 Rue Jolie; The Gaiety Hall, 105 Rue Jolie; La Belle Villa, 113 Rue Jolie; Dr Watkins Villa, 115 Rue Jolie; Colombo Cottage, 147B Rue Jolie; Mona Lisa Cottage, 153 Rue Jolie; Nikau Cottage, 130 Rue Jolie; cottage, 154 Rue Jolie; The Maples, 158 Rue Jolie; Masonic Lodge, 160 Rue Jolie; house, 162 Rue Jolie; Lighthouse, Cemetery Point; Aylmers Stream bridge; the Shipping Office, 3 Church St; house, 23 Bruce Terrace; 9 Aubrey Street; 9 Bruce Terrace; Oinako Lodge, 99 Beach Rd; Betchworth, 6 Aubrey St; The Staples, 13 William St; house, 13 Aylmer St; cottage, 10 Percy St; Glencarrig, 7 Percy St

In addition, the Trust registered the Akaroa waterfront as an historic area in 1996.

The current historic area nomination adds many buildings, but widens the scope of heritage in line with the HPA 1993 criteria by including historic trees and plantings, heritage items such as a street lamps, trypots and the wharf to the buildings and houses considered under the HPA 1980.

Although there are some earlier buildings from the 1840s-1860s, and trypots from the whaling days, most of the buildings and structures date from the 1870s through to the early 1900s, when Akaroa was developing its rural and maritime servicing roles (the customs house, lighthouse, shipping office, rowing club boathouse, weighbridge, Dalys Wharf etc). As their names suggest, some of the houses were built as replacements for earlier structures and are associated with the French and German colonists of the 1840s.

(b) Forms part of the historical and cultural heritage of New Zealand:

Like the Bay of Islands, Akaroa played a prominent role in the early contact history of New Zealand. The site of a projected French colony, the town was under the protection of the French Navy for several years. Akaroa was also a major port of call for whaling vessels from many nations, the whaling trade continuing well into the provincial era. Some southern signatures to the Treaty of Waitangi were collected here.

European settlers began arriving at Lyttelton and Christchurch in large numbers from 1850. Akaroa lost its prominence, but many of the French settlers applied for British citizenship and as early as 1851 the township was being touted as a resort for city-dwellers. With the opening of a public jetty in 1858-59, Akaroa added to its maritime heritage, serving coastal shipping as well as visiting whale ships. The town initiated a regatta and the sheltered port has long been a popular call for summer excursion cruises. It grew steadily during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, giving the township the characteristic streetscape now appreciated by many visitors. In later years Akaroa's economy thrived on grass seed growing and the dairying industry booms. It is now primarily a coastal resort and retirement centre.

Akaroa was one of the first towns in New Zealand to appreciate its heritage qualities. In 1961 the Langlois-Eteveneux cottage was acquired for public preservation (opening as a living museum three years later.) The town has a very high number of Trust-registered historic buildings and the recent publication of books such as Gwenda Turner's Akaroa, Gordon Ogilvie's Banks Peninsula and Philip Tremewan's French Akaroa attest to the widespread appreciation of the town's heritage.

(c) Lies within the territorial limits of New Zealand:

Meets the criteria.

RECOMMENDATION: Registration as an historic area.

The following text is from the original Historic Area Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report presented to the Board Feb 1999:


The majority of visitors to Akaroa appreciate the place because of its peace and tranquillity, the beauty of the location, the village atmosphere, the charm of the old colonial cottages, churches, civic buildings, narrow winding streets, bridges and gardens, and the fact that these are all still intact and represent a unique architectural and community environment.


The Curator of the Akaroa Museum describes the architectural character of the town as being predominantly British Colonial, typified by weatherboard construction, cob infill, steep pitched roofs with dormer windows, verandahs and sash windows.

Essentially this view is correct. A French style or French character of architecture, where it is evident in Akaroa, is relatively recent and cultivated. Perhaps the only genuine original French styled building in the town is the Langlois-Eteveneaux House, c.1841-45, on the corner of Rue Lavaud and Rue Balguerie. This place is said to have been prefabricated in France. Evidence of French styling, at least, can be noted in details which are not common to colonial buildings in New Zealand i.e., a steeply pitched roof with a concave profile at the eaves, a facade divided into five bays in trabeated form defined by pilasters and cornice, inward opening casement windows, window shutters which actually close, and air conditioning vents under the eaves. According to Charles Fearnley however, one of the original owners of the cottage returned to Akaroa around 1890 and it was he who was responsible for refurbishing the exterior of the building "in the French style."

St Patrick's Church below L'Aube Hill (1864) is also noted for having an authentic French style, principally in the form of stepped bargeboards and an offset spire set on a squat salt shaker form tower. The style is certainly Gallic in flavour and its presence in Akaroa can probably be attributed to the influence that Father J.B. Chataigner (a French priest who arrived in New Zealand in the early 1860s, and who was known to have a very strong character) had over the design drawn by the architect, English-born Benjamin Mountfort.

Most of the genuinely authentic old buildings in Akaroa, however, date from the flood of British settlers in the 1850s and 1860s. This architecture is colonial British and the full range of colonial styles may be seen including Colonial Box Cottage or the 'intimately scaled' cottage, Colonial Carpenter Gothic in both domestic and ecclesiastical buildings, Colonial Georgian, Colonial Regency - a notable example being “Blythcliff” on the Rue Balguerie, and Victorian Free Classical. It has been a popular view that this range of architectural styles was confined to the 'English' or south end of the town which extends past Stanley Park. Fearnley argues that in reality the architecture does not vary from one end of the town to the other. The evidence supports this view. If we take just one street with a French name - the Rue Jolie for example, we find that all of the buildings listed by the Civic Trust were built twenty or more years after the first period of settlement and include such places as the Gaiety Hall, 1877, a Roman temple fronted building which is an exercise in Victorian Free Classical style, and the 'Coronation Library,' which is an essay in English Domestic Revival style in the manner of Philip Webb by Christchurch architect, Samuel Farr. Farr was also the designer of Blythcliff and of the first St Peter's Church in Akaroa (1852) and probably was also the architect of the present, second, St Peter's Church, Akaroa (1864) - a building which Fearnley describes as being a timber copy of an English parish church. The houses in the Rue Jolie, as in the other streets included in the historic area, are all of a uniformly local, New Zealand colonial style with bracketed verandah posts, gable or dog-house dormer windows, box cottage or Carpenter Gothic plan with decorated bargeboards - types that were found throughout the North and South Islands during the same period.

In summary, the architectural character of the area is expressed in terms of:

-Period hotels and shops in Stripped Colonial Georgian style.

-Cast iron decorative Edwardian street lamps.

-Period timber Gothic Churches in imitative French and English style.

-Some public buildings in English Domestic revival or Neo-Classical style

-Period bridges built in traditional style.

-A generally homogenous group of Victorian and Edwardian houses which are (with the exception of Blythcliff and the Langlois-Eteveneaux House) variations of the New Zealand Box Cottage, Rustic Gothic house, the Cottage Orne, and the New Zealand Villa.

The Akaroa historic area also has an evident French flavour in terms of certain street names and the addition to houses of certain architectural features such as window shutters and geranium boxes although, as suggested, this has been rather a case of cultivated character arrived at in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Genuine French design elements are to be found in the area in terms of such things as the metric width of the streets (12 metres), French European trees (walnuts, willows and Normandy poplars descended from French originals) and roses and vines, also descended from French originals. Notwithstanding these elements, it would, nevertheless, be difficult not to argue that the true significance of the area lies in the fact that it is an exceptionally well preserved example of a colonial New Zealand town from the second half of the nineteenth century.


Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

The following text is from the original Historic Area Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report presented to the Board Feb 1999:

Construction Dates

Completion Date

15th October 1998

Report Written By

W. Nelson and G. McLean

Other Information

A copy of the original report is available from the NZHPT Southern region office.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.

Historic Area Place Name

Akaroa Lighthouse
Akaroa Pharmacy
Akaroa Rowing Club Boathouse
Akaroa Sports Centre
Akaroa War Memorial
Anglican Cemetery
Art Gallery (Former Power House)
Artisan's Gallery
Aylmer House
Aylmer Stream Bridge
Bank of New Zealand Building
Banksia Cottage
Beach Road Bridge
Brassells Building
Bridge, Grehan Stream
Britomart Reserve
Charlotte Stratton Cottage
Chez La Mer
Colonial Cottage
Colonial Gabled Cottage
Colonial Store
Colonial Workingman's Cottage
Commercial Building
Coronation Library
Cottage Garden
Courthouse (Former)
Daly's Wharf (1914)
Donnet House (Former)
Fault - Line Gallery (fmr Butcher)
Fire & Ice Building (fmr Brown's Bakery)
Fire Brigade Bell Tower
Gaiety Hall
Garden of Tane Scenic Reserve
Gift Shop (Former Weighbridge)
Harbour View Café
House (fmr Barber's Shop)
House (Formerly Oinako House)
House (Formerly Widow Munn's House)
Information Centre & District Council Office (fmr Post Office)
La Petie Maison Rouge
Langlois-Eteveneaux House (Former)
L'Aube Hill Reserve
Local Crafts
Madeira Hotel
Masonic Hall (Phoenix Lodge)
McCrostie's Office
Mon Desir
Mona Lisa
Mrs Eteveneaux's Sweet Shop (fmr)
Narbey House (including Outhouse)
Nikau Cottage
Open Space/Recreation Ground
Picket Fence [Removed]
Pot Pouri (fmr Town Hall)
Roman Catholic and Dissenters' Cemeteries
Rue Jolie Bridge
Shipping Office (Former)
Shop (Akaroa Photography)
Shop Building
St Patrick's Church (Catholic)
St Peter's Church (Anglican)
Stanley Park Reserve
Staples House
Streetlamp [Removed]
The French Cemetery
The Grand Hotel
The Legges House
The Maples
The Old Criterion Hotel
The Poplars
The Shelter
The Snuggle Inn (fmr Police Station)
Trinity Church (Presbyterian)
Trypot [Removed]
Vangioni's General Merchant Store (fmr)
Waeckerle Bridges
Waeckerle's Cottage